The Idolator Interview: Kate Nash

Erika Brooks Adickman | May 19, 2010 10:15 am

Fame caught Kate Nash a little off-guard – after a sudden burst of popularity on MySpace helped land her a record deal, she saw her album soar to #1 on the UK charts – and promptly suffered a breakdown. Two years later she’s back, with an album that reads as a determined effort to wrap her arms around it all. The piano-pop diary confessions of her first album have been sharpened with a biting, retro-rock energy and the power of Kate’s own gaze, now fixed on topics much bigger in scope than those in her everyday life.

In My Best Friend Is You, Kate offers her distinct perspective on the roles of groupies and homophobia, while still trying to grasp at something that seems to be lying outside the fame machine, just out of reach. “You’ll never listen to me. You’ll never listen to me. No you’ll never listen to me.” she sings on her opening track “Paris”. We were all ears when she sat down with us last week to talk about My Best Friend Is You.

Determined avoid the dreaded sophomore slump with her follow up album, Nash did something a bit unorthodox: she went in to her rehearsal space and wrote songs with the attitude that no one else would ever hear them.

Kate drew from her experiences on tour and from the music she was listening to at the time, an eclectic mix of influences that reflect a sort of girl power rolodex: Bikini Kill, The Shirelles, Sleater-Kinney, The Supremes; and took her time with each song. This process was simply an exercise for Kate to get back to the fun of making music again. Later, when it came time for her to work with a producer Bernard Butler (guitarist for the influential British rock band Suede) on her second album, the “Mouthwash” singer realized she had already written enough songs to fill it.

Kate hasn’t lost the clever touches of her first album, but she’s added the self-assurance of Motown-era girl groups. Fans of her early piano-driven pop will the whimsical singer they know, empowered by Supremes-style confidence, on songs like “Paris”, “Do-Wah-Doo” and “Kiss That Grrrl”. But Kate reveals an increasingly prevalent rock streak – as on the Riot Grrl-influenced “Mansion Song”, and other songs head in unexpected directions, as with the Irish folk-tinged “Take Me To A Higher Plane” which caused fans to rush the stage at her El Rey Theatre concert in Los Angeles.

All that emotionally charged sentiment ultimately comes from a sensitive heart. Kate describes herself as a “I’m definitely a romantic…I don’t think there’s anything realist about me. I’m a total dreamer. I believe in revolution and change,” she told us in a chat last week.

Watch Kate discuss her stylized 60s-inspired video “Do-Wah-Doo”, her new look, and what she would be doing in life if she wasn’t making music in our two part interview below.

Part One of our interview with Kate Nash.

Part 2 of the Idolator interview with Kate Nash.